A California federal jury on Nov. 23 handed down a $55 million verdict against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for failing to pay about 850 of its truck drivers all of the compensation to which they were entitled.
The jury held that Wal-Mart owed the drivers back pay for conducting pre- and post-trip inspections, mandatory rest breaks and layovers between trips, but not for other tasks, such as fueling and washing trucks.
Current and former Wal-Mart truck drivers in California sued the company in 2008, claiming a plan that compensated drivers by mileage and activity rather than hours worked violated state law. Wal-Mart dropped the plan in 2015.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco previously ruled that Wal-Mart violated California law for not paying its truck drivers minimum wage for all work performed. Illston left the determination of damages for trial.
Illston could double the jury award if she finds that Wal-Mart acted willfully.
Wal-Mart ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.
Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company disagrees with the verdict.
“We strongly believe that our truck drivers are paid in compliance with California law and often in excess of what California law requires,” Hargrove said, noting that its drivers’ earnings range from $80,000 to more than $100,000 per year.
He said the company will be filing post-trial motions and is likely to appeal the verdict.
"The facts in the law clearly show that these drivers were not paid for all the duties they did, like the pre-and post-trip inspections, and they were not paid for their rest breaks," said Butch Wagner, attorney for the drivers, according to ABC News.